1: Aussie Adventures 1
Journal 2: Aussie Adventures 2
Journal 3: Indonesian Escapades
Journal 4: Singapore & Malaysia
Journal 5: Langkawi, Malaysia
Journal 6: Thailand Trekking 1
Journal 7: Thailand Trekking 2
Journal 8: Indian Ocean, Maldives, & Oman
Journal 9: Oman & Yemen
Journal 10: Pirates, Eritrea, & Sudan
Journal 11: Egyptian Adventures 1
Egyptian Adventures 2
Journal 13: Egypt to Israel
Journal 14: Cyprus Crossings
Journal 15: Turkish Tales 1
Journal 16: Turkish Tales 2
Journal 17: Greek Odyssey
Journal 18: Italy & Spain
Journal 19: Why Go
Journal 20: Airplanes are Faster
AUSSIE ADVENTURES 1
June 20, 2004 -- It’s now T-minus 30 days until my departure for
Australia and one of the great adventures of a lifetime. What seemed to be
light years away is almost here!!! YAHOO!! Soon it will be sun, sea,
sailing, and a whole new world to discover. I am so looking forward to
seeing new places – Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the
Seychelles … et al. How many times does an opportunity like this come along?
Maybe once or twice. So I am making the most of it and counting down the
days. I hope that you will join me on this amazing journey by checking into
my journal page and following along.
July 20, 2004 -- So I am off for the adventure of a lifetime after
packing up my bags. The last couple of days have been spent working on
getting my apartment packed up and moved into storage, as well as making
those most important pit stops to Lexington favorite hang outs such as
Graeter’s Ice Cream Parlor. Everything has come together smoothly between
packing, renting moving trucks, saying goodbye to some awesome co-workers,
and enjoying my final moments with close friends. Before I know it, I will
be on a plane out of Lexington to LA and then on to Brisbane, Australia
where I will meet up with David's family.
July 22, 2004 -- I have arrived in sunny Brisbane after a 30 hour cross-country and trans-Pacific flight. What a ride it was!! I had 2 huge duffel bags that each weighed about 40 lbs. It was an interesting experience trying to decide just what I should take with me for the next year. How many swimsuits does one person need when heading towards to the tropical beauty and crystal clear water of the South Pacific? The flight from LA was packed with a tour group of 200 teenagers. What a racket they made!! It was like living in a beehive. It was a wonder that I managed to sleep at all. Cramped seats, little leg room, old movies, tasteless food, and 12 hours later we arrived in Auckland, New Zealand for a 1 hour layover. I have been through Auckland one time before. They had the wonderful idea of installing showers in their restrooms for all the raggle-taggle travelers that are wandering in from hours of flying. So I had the most relaxing time soaking in a hot shower for about 30 minutes and then reappearing totally refreshed. Just 3 hours later after flying into Brisbane, being sniffed by the customs dogs (they look for any sort of food that one might be carrying, does gum count?), waiting for luggage, and making my way through the customs lines I arrived into the warm and loving arms of David. Ah, happiness!
June 25, 2004 -- We are staying in a small beach town to the North of Brisbane called Mooloolaba. It must be some sort of aboriginal name. I have no idea what it means, but as far as I know, there are no cows around here. I am well settled into the Abbott’s boat, Exit Only. I have my own roomy cabin that has a window right above me head so that I can see the stars at night. David and his family have just come back from spending one month in the Outback of Australia. They drove over 9500 km in their Land Rover through deserts, mountains, and up the coast. They are happy to get back to the boat and now we are starting the process of packing up and gearing up for sailing. Between provisioning the boat, David and I have been doing some exploring around town. There is a lovely beach not 5 minutes from us. It has large dunes covered in sea grass that lead down to a wide, soft and sandy beach. What is so nice about the beach is that there is hardly anyone on it! This is not like Fort Lauderdale or Miami where you have to fight for your space on the sand. You can walk for miles and miles, just enjoying the beauty of the ocean.
June 29, 2004 -- We have just spent an awesome day at the Australia Zoo. It was started by Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) and his family. CRIKEY!! It was a wonderful zoo that he has really expanded in the past couple of years as he has become more well known. They focus on animals native to Australia -- kangaroos, wallabies, crocodile, Tasmanian devils, snakes … etc. I learned that if you ever want to find the animal which is the most dangerous or poisonous, come to Australia! We got to see some awesome shows. I learned that crocodiles only eat every two weeks. They had all these pens with crocs that were surrounded by bleachers. When they fed a croc, what a show it would be!! These animals easily weigh 1000 pounds when they are full grown and are they ferocious! They would come after their feeders and handlers like there was no tomorrow. Their jaws would slam shut with a loud crash as it clamped down on whole chickens! Yikes!! Completely opposite to the crocs was the gentleness of the koalas. They are so amazingly soft when you pet them. It seems like they sleep all of the day and only wake up to eat. We also had the chance to pet some kangaroos -- little ones and bigger ones. They were sooooo CUTE! They had the kangaroos and wallabies enclosed in a large pen where they could wander about freely. If you were lucky, you might even see a little joey (a baby kangaroo) peeking out from its mother’s pouch. The only “low point” to the whole experience was lunch. They have a huge cafeteria at the Zoo. I bravely decided to try the Aussie Burger. What surprise I was in for!! The beef patty was about one and a half inches thick and topped with a beet, fried egg and mushrooms! It was, shall we say, life nothing I have ever tasted before!
August 2, 2004 -- We headed into Brisbane today. It is a fairly large city with about 1 million people. It is built right on the river and there are multiple bridges that connect the city. As transportation, they have a large motor boat called City Cat that carries people from stop to stop up and down the river. We had the chance to check out Queensland University, the Brisbane Museum, Chinatown, and North Beach. The university sits right on the river and has students from all over the world. At the museum, they had a fantastic collection of Polynesian and Aboriginal art -- costumes, masks, musical instruments… Along North Beach, they have built up an outdoor activities center with a beach, restaurants, concert hall, market … etc. It was a bustle of activity. Instead of pigeons, they have large birds here called Ibis’ which look a little bit like Egrets but with long curved beaks. One was even brave enough to come steal some food off of David’s dad’s plate! Finally, we checked out the lovely botanical gardens which are built up along the banks of the river. After a full day of walking, we were petered out and we headed back to the boat.
August 4, 2004 -- Today David and I scrubbed down the boat as we prepare to leave Mooloolaba. It was dirty and wet job, but we enjoyed it. We worked from the dinghy with long brushes, sponges, and the hose. It was a definite upper body workout! By the time we finished, the boat was sparkling like new. All that is left to be done now is last minute provisioning with fresh foods, checks of the sails, engines … etc. We should be on our way by the end of the week and head up towards the WhitSunday Islands which are just off the Australian Coast as we head toward the Great Barrier Reef. From what I have read and seen in books, the WhitSundays look beautiful. The weather and water will be warmer than here in Mooloolaba. Right now, it is winter in Australia. It is just beginning to warm up here on the Sunshine coast. The islands are supposed to be picturesque -- white sand beaches, clear blue water, palm trees, coral reef … It should be great for exploring, snorkeling, and diving. It will take us about 3 days to sail up to the WhitSundays. We should have a pretty smooth ride since we are sailing with the wind. But regardless, I have been informed that getting seasick is unavoidable. It takes a few days to get acclimatized to the rolling and rocking motion of the boat while we are sailing in the ocean. Kind of feels like you have the flu. You don’t feel like eating or doing much of anything. This could be heralded as the next ultimate weight loss plan!! As this is going to be my first real sailing experience, we’ll have to see how I handle it all.
August 6-12 -- We have just
finished up a 4 day sail up the coast of Australia. Our goal -- the WhitSunday
Islands. It was the first long-distance sailing that I have done. Sailing is
part of the Abbott family. Since I am joining the family in about one year,
this trip is really almost like a rite of passage. And I am proud to say that
I survived this first leg of the trip without any seasickness! Quite the
accomplishment!! We just won’t mention the hours I spent lying around in the
fetal position. <smile> When you are on a passage, your stomach is just not up
to eating. We survived on a steady diet of popcorn, chips, and cookies. One
day, when the ocean was quite peaceful I gathered up the courage to make egg
salad sandwiches. To everyone’s relief, they managed to stay down. Every day
sailing was absolutely gorgeous. The sky was blue and clear. The water
shimmered. And the wind … let’s just say that it was not quite up to par. We
ended up motoring about one-third of the way through the passage. At night we
would take watch to make sure that Exit Only did not run into any other boats,
since we were sailing 24/7.
One of the amazing things about this trip was all the animals we saw. Right
now, it is migration season for humpback whales. On our way up, we must have
seen over 15 whales swimming towards the cooler Antarctic waters. They would
raise their giant tales out of the water and slap the surface. If you were
lucky, you might even catch one of these amazing creatures jumping clear out
of the water and belly-flopping! Amazing!! I also had the chance to see some
dolphins. They came right up to the boat and cruised alongside the bow. They
would flip over on their backs and look right up at you with an inquisitive
stare. You have to wonder what they must think of us. Finally, we did a little
fishing off the boat by dragging a long line behind us. We snagged fish twice.
But both times before we could haul them in the fish managed to get free from
the lure. Finally, as we were pulling into the WhitSundays we caught a
beautiful mackerel -- silver with blue stripes and about 10-15 pounds. It
fought for the longest time. We filet the mackerel and it ended up becoming
our lunch the next day.
The WhitSundays are a grouping of about 70 islands which are just off the
Great Barrier Reef. They look like they must be volcanic in origin. According
to some of the tour books I have been flipping through, the islands were
actually a part of mainland Australia before a giant glacier melted and made
them into islands about 100 million years ago. The islands rise up out of
aquamarine water and are dotted with white sand beaches. As it is winter in
the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is still a little cool. However it did not
keep us out of the water. We pulled into Neck Bay on Shaw Island about 100
yards from a great little beach. Between us and the beach, there were coral
heads known as bommies. David and I navigated through the water to go in and
explore the island a little. What a strange sensation to be back on solid
ground. For 4 days, all we had experienced was the rocking and rolling of the
ocean. And now everything was still and calm -- I love land! No palm trees on
these islands. The islands are more mountainous and hilly, covered in scrub
brush. After thoroughly enjoying our adventure of exploration, David and I
headed back to the boat. Now it was time to clean up!! After 4 days without a
shower, we were more than ready to plunge into the water, however cold it
might be. I think that I was in and out of the water in about 30 seconds! But
ah, how refreshing and amazingly wonderful it was to be clean!! The next day,
we headed for another inlet at the same island. David pulled out his
windsurfer and tore around the water. We checked out another pretty little
beach. Unfortunately, the tide was out. So, we had to walk over some really
sludgy sand and mud before getting to the beach. Found some great little
shells here and there. Unlike the previous night, we were joined by 13 other
boats for the night.
Today, we headed for Hamilton Island. This is one of the islands that has been
developed in the WhitSundays. There is a marina, hotels, private mansions,
stores, and PIZZA! We checked into the island early in the morning for
refueling, restocking, exploring, and good eating. David and I hiked to the
top of the island and discovered some amazing views. (see pictures) For lunch,
we stopped at the pizzeria. It was like a little piece of heaven! Delicious.
We head back out tomorrow for more sailing and exploration in the WhitSundays.
August 13-15 --
We continue to explore the Whitsunday Islands just off the coast of the Great
Barrier Reef. There are many little islands and anchorages here to explore. We
have discovered that this area is a favorite local Australian cruisers. There
are lots of people here sailing, either with their own boats or by charter.
The weather has been beautiful -- sunny and warm. So we have had the chance to
get out there and enjoy the water.
Many of these little islands are surrounded by coral reefs. We have been able
to snorkel and see some gorgeous wildlife. The coral is beautiful and so
colorful -- blue, green, orange. And all around it are lots of darting fish --
picasso fish, parrotfish, triggerfish ... etc. How I wish that I had a camera
to shoot some pictures underwater. Hopefully, we will get to do some more
snorkeling as we progress into warmer water. Other creatures we have managed
to see are stingrays and large sea turtles. They are surprisingly quick
underwater. Nothing turtle-like about these guys!
One of the great things here in the Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach. This
beach is AMAZING!! It is 6 kilometers long and made up of pure white sand.
It's like sugar out there. Wonderful to walk on and do some beachcombing. We
have been anchored off the beach now for 2 days. The first day was pretty
rough -- lots of swell, as the wind was pounding into us. It made for a bumpy
night! But today it has been wonderful. The water has been flat enough that I
worked up the courage to get some free windsurfing lessons from David. It was
a lot more difficult that it seems. The trick to it all is balance. I managed
to get upright on the board and actually sail about 100 feet down the shore.
However, I also managed to fall into the water a few times as well. With more
good weather and calm waters, I will be perfecting my windsurfing technique.
August 21, 2004 --
We are in Townsville, Australia. It was a bumpy sail from Arlie Beach to
Townsville. I have now received the nickname “Sarah of the Savage Seas” as I
have managed to remain without seasickness! This is one of the bigger towns in
the Queensland Territory. Much of the town is based around James Cook
University and the Royal Australian Air Force Base. One of the wonderful
things about the town is all the development that surrounds the large bay that
the city sits on. There is a long boardwalk, picnic area, water parks,
restaurants … etc. At the center of the city is a large rock formation that
rises a good 500 feet. It makes Townsville look as though it is set on the
edge of a desert. High on the rock face, a very brave student painted a stick
figure one night that has come to be known as “the Saint.“ The highlight of
our stop here was the Bull Riding Championship. It brought together riders
from Australia, the USA, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Guatemala, and Brazil.
What possesses these young men to strap themselves to an enraged bull only to
be bounced around, bucked off, and if they are lucky not receive a concussion
is beyond me! It brought back memories of the rodeo we had in Richmond this
Spring and helping Dr. Geile stitch up one of the riders!! (HEY PAC!!)
Tomorrow we start heading towards Cairns. It will be a short overnight sail.
Cairns is a vacation hot spot here in Australia. Think Fort Lauderdale meets
Vegas meets the Tropics! It should be fun to check out.
August 22-24, 2004 --
We left Townsville early this morning and headed towards Magnetic Island which
is only about 10 miles away. The island owes its name to Captain James Cook.
During the 1800’s while passing the island his compass suddenly stopped
functioning -- hence the name, Magnetic. The island itself looks like a large
stack of granite boulders. One of our reasons for stopping off at Magnetic
Island is that there are supposedly wild koalas about. Once we got into shore
we headed off on some of the nature trails for a little exploration.
Unfortunately, we did not see a single koala. What we did find were massive
fields of granite boulders!! Great fun for climbing, hiking, and skinned
The other thing that we found was a nude beach! We tramped on down to
the beach with cameras out and ready. Since it was late in the day, there were
only 2 nude bathers. But they quickly got into their boat when they saw us
approaching. I can’t ever imagine why! After an uneventful night in the bay,
we headed off early in the morning for Cairns. Now Cairns is a good 160 miles
away, so we had an overnight sail. It went really smoothly due to the lack of
wind. So we ended up motoring most of the way up the coast. On the way up, we
tried our hand at fishing again. Three times we hook a mackerel and three
times we lost them. Twice we lost the fish when the lure came loose, and once
when another very large fish came by and snatched it right off the line!
Cairns is one of the largest cities in Australia. It is a big resort town.
There are lots of people here from South East Asia who come down to check out
the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, one cannot get into the water here
without serious risk of becoming the dinner of some rather ferocious
crocodiles!! There is going to be lots to see here in Cairns and the
surrounding area. The backdrop of Cairns is a tropical rain forest and
tomorrow we will be heading out to do just that.
August 24-28, 2004 --
We have arrived safely in
Cairns, Australia to find a bustling and thriving city. It seems that Cairns
is built entirely around the tourist industry. We are now at the closest point
to the Great Barrier Reef. Every day we see large tour boats heading out
loaded with people to check out the reef. Interestingly enough, most of the
tourists here seem to be Japanese! There are so many flash bulbs going off
that one is in constant need of sunglasses!
In the 4 days that we have been at Cairns, we have thoroughly explored the
city. There is a wealth of restaurants, attractions, internet cafes, shopping
… One of the cool things is that the marina where we are stationed is right at
the center of town. Just next to us is the Esplanade, a large walking area and
pool complex. They have an awesome eternity pool that looks like it empties
right into the bay. Every day there are hundreds of young people out
sunbathing and barbecuing. However, this being Croc-country, no one is
actually out in the real water!
On Thursday, we headed up into the mountains that rise up behind Cairns. The
mountains are covered by tropical rainforest!! Absolutely breathtaking!! The
trees rise hundreds of feet into the air and are teeming with wildlife. To
reach our destination of Kuranda (a small and touristy mountain town), we rode
a ski-lift contraption that took us high into the hills for over 1 hour. It
makes you feel like a very small ant compared to the rainforest. Along the way
we had stops where rainforest tours were being given. I learned that some of
the trees in the Cairn’s rainforest are hundreds of years old. The rainforest
is home of kolas, platypus’, boa constrictors, birds, rare butterflies … Along
the way, we met a great aboriginal forest ranger who gave us a brief history
on the aborigines in the area. There are many individual clans and tribes in
Kuranda was a neat little town that began to thrive as a commune like
community in the 60’s & 70’s. Now it is filled with artsy little shops and
restaurants. They are home to the largest butterfly aviary in Australia, a bat
rescue base, rainforest walks, and much more. It kind of felt like Key West
meets the rainforest out here. For the trip back to Cairns, we took the scenic
train. We got a great view of the Barron Falls (dry season right now) which
provides most of the power to the region in and around Cairns.
On Saturday morning we will be leaving Cairns and once again heading up the
coast. Our goal is Lizard island where we will really be able to check out the
Great Barrier Reef by snorkeling and scuba diving. It will just an overnight
trip, but we will be some busy shipping lanes so we will have to keep our eyes
open. After that we will be sailing about 600 miles up to Thursday Island.
Love, true love
Cuddly Koala at the Oz Zoo
Can I keep him?
Can I keep HIM? (us in Brisbane)
The Brisbane Exploration Society
Samson gets his locks trimmed
Humpback Whale on the way to Whitsundays
Burning Point, Shaw Island
Hamilton Island Marina
View from the top of Hamilton Island
The Abbotts and Me-Whitsunday Island
Whitehaven Beach -- GORGEOUS!!
Aboriginal Art at the Nara Inlet
Happy Hiker at Nara Inlet
Big Boulders at Magnetic Island
Townsville - World Championship
Riding the Skyrail into the forest
Kauri tree (over 400 years old)
Modern Aboriginal Art
Happy Fruit Bat
Riding the Rails